THE BLOG

Board Level Accountability Needed to Help Stop Nuisance Calls and Texts

07/12/2014 19:39 GMT | Updated 06/02/2015 10:59 GMT

To say nuisance calls and texts are the bane of millions of people's lives would be an understatement. We found that eight in 10 people (83%) said they had received an unsolicited call within one month on their landline. Around one in 10 (13%) of these received more than 20 unwanted calls in that month.

But they are more than just a nuisance: three in 10 people (29%) who've received calls on their landline or mobile say they have felt intimidated. Our Calling Time campaign against unwanted calls and texts has grown to 135,000 supporters, making it one of the most popular Which? has ever run.

However, tackling them is easier said than done. There are steps people can take to help lessen the number of calls but ultimately we also need to see much more action from industry, regulators and the Government.

As part of the government's Nuisance Call Action Plan announced in March, we were asked to lead a review into the way businesses obtain and use consumers' consent to be contacted by phone and text for direct marketing. We also focussed on how organisations buy and sell potential customer leads.

Membership of the task force included consumer advocates, businesses and regulators.

Today we will formally set out recommendations to help tackle unwanted calls and texts including holding senior executives to account for the behaviour of their company.

We will make 15 recommendations to government, presenting them to the minister for culture and the digital economy Ed Vaizey.

These will include calling on businesses to improve their direct marketing practices. Businesses should make compliance with the rules on consumer consent a board level matter, with senior executives held to account for the behaviour of their company.

We also believe companies should allow consumers to easily revoke consent to being contacted and view ICO guidance on a six-month time limit for third party consent as the minimum standard. We expect marketing companies to ensure any sales leads they buy have been fairly and legally obtained and that they have a record of consumer consent being given.

But this alone won't be enough. We are urging further action by the regulators. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) should work with other regulators to understand wider problems with the market in personal data which cause consumer harm and identify action to remedy these. We are also calling on the Information Commissioner to develop further practical solutions to stop nuisance calls including wording for how people opt-in and opt-out of being contacted for marketing purposes.

There is more work for the government to do too. It should lead a cross-sector business awareness campaign to ensure companies know their responsibilities when it comes to making marketing calls and texts, as well as considering how future legislation could tackle nuisance marketing.

Consumers have suffered nuisance calls and texts for far too long. Only through concerted and coordinated action will we put people back in control of their data and help bring this modern day menace to an end.

You can show your support for our Calling Time campaign at www.which.co.uk/taskforce